Message from the Dean, Dr. Anne-Liisa Longmore: Welcome to a new academic year

Welcome to the start of the 2021-2022 academic year. It’s hard to imagine we are at the beginning of a new academic year! Time goes by so quickly. I trust each of you have had a lovely summer, having found time to rest, rejuvenate and, where possible, enjoy quality time with those you love.

I wish to begin by sharing my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to our PSB leadership team, academic portfolio administrators, and support staff team members who continue to demonstrate compassion, agility, responsiveness and a tireless commitment to our community as we continue to plan, re-plan and re-plan again in response to the continuously evolving pandemic landscape. I also extend my deepest thanks to our faculty colleagues who, in the midst of ongoing uncertainty, remain steadfast in your commitment to providing exceptional learning experiences, ongoing support to one another and thoughtful input into our ongoing planning efforts. Despite the challenges we have experienced as a community, we have also continued to relentlessly pursue and advance our collective academic vision. Each day, I am awed by your collective strength, and resilience and am honoured to serve you.

I also wish to acknowledge the ongoing heroic efforts of our colleagues across the college – Student Affairs, Human Resources, Health and Wellness, Occupational Health and Safety, Facilities, Communications, Security and Risk Management and IT (to name a few) who work tirelessly on behalf of the Sheridan community closely monitoring and assessing the environment, connecting with Public Health, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and other government agencies, while responding to our community’s safety and operational needs and keeping our broader community regularly informed. A tremendous amount of ongoing work continues to take place behind the scenes to support the safety of our community and our teaching and learning mission.

To that end, you may have read the recent follow up to the Aug. 27  announcement regarding proof of vaccine procedures and accommodation, which provided additional information regarding Sheridan’s vaccine mandate and the policies and procedures related to all individuals coming to campus after Sept. 6. Given the rapidly changing environment, I invite community members to regularly check for updates and answers to frequently asked questions about the fall term on COVID-19 FAQs.

I am excited to share that as of Aug. 30, PSB will be welcoming approximately 1,350 first-year, first-semester students and 2,500 returning students to our community. In accordance with Sheridan’s gradual return to campus approach and Ministry and Public Health guidelines, we will be continuing to offer the majority of our course sections (454) in a remote/virtual format, with an additional 130 course sections being offered in-person. From an office administration perspective, only essential workers providing direct support to students will be working regularly on campus. This means that PSB offices will be open (following carefully crafted safety standard operating procedures) and staffed (using rotating schedules) by our program support specialists, associate deans and myself. Accessibility to and service by our administrative and support teams to our community remains a priority. To that end, business operations will also continue to operate in a virtual format with support provided via email, phone and Microsoft Teams. Please see PSB Standard Operating Procedures and PSB Office Support & Office Space Update for further details.

This edition of SpeakingBiz focuses on providing you with the most up-to-date information to support a safe partial return to campus, including PSB office procedures, links to FAQ, resource documents, return to campus guides, student support information, as well updated academic resources to support faculty whether teaching in person or virtually. I invite community members to check out the resources on Return to Campus – Resources from Sheridan HR (including important links), the Student Affairs return to campus and wellness updates, the Well Series update and the Library and Learning Services update, among others, to familiarize yourself with what we might expect and need to be cognizant of this fall. In addition, please be sure to check these resources frequently as they are dynamic and will be updated as needed.

Finally, the start of a new academic year is often filled with excitement, enthusiasm and a little bit of trepidation. This year is no exception. While many of us do feel excitement, after a year-and-a-half of finding our way through this pandemic, fatigue and stress have also begun to take their toll. Indeed, given PSB has operated remotely since March 2020, the thought of a partial return to campus will likely bring on a range of emotions – some may be excited, while others may be nervous or fearful. Given the continued uncertainty, this is completely understandable given each of us has been and continue to be impacted by the pandemic in very different ways — personally and professionally.

Please know, your health and well-being, and that of our community is of paramount concern and a priority. Should you require assistance or support, please do not hesitate to reach out to your respective manager and/or refer to the Employee Wellbeing section of the Supports and Resources on Sheridan’s Return to Campus page on Sheridan Central.

Thank you for your continued service to our community and our learners. I wish you all a safe and successful start to the fall semester. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me should you wish to connect for coffee, share your experience or a concern, or ask a question. I am always eager to connect, listen and learn. To that end, I will be resuming our virtual coffee chats this fall, so please be on the look-out for an invitation to join in later in the term.

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